The light tank M3 Stuart is the result of a series of light tanks which began in 1931. However the development of M3 began really only in 1940 when Armored Force was created in June. Benefitting from the lesson of the campaign of France, the US designers modified light tank M2A4 by increasing its frontal shielding up to 51 mm and by installing an anti-aircraft machine-gun on the turret. The hull was prolonged to cover the exhausts and the suspensions with helical springs was retained. The new model was baptized M3 Light Tank. It had a crew of 4 men: the commander, the gunner, the driver and his assistant. As the M2A4, M3 was armed with the standard gun M5 of 37 mm with gyro-stabilizers. The hull was assembled by bolting and accomodated a Continental W-670 of 250 hp gasoline engine. Armament was supplemented by five Browning machine-guns of 7.62 mm: an anti-aircraft mounted to the back of the turret, coaxial mounted with the right side of the gun, a machine-gun of hull assembled on the glacis and two others mounted on each sponsons. M3 was standardized in July 1940 and the production began in March 1941. The Continental W-670 gasoline engine was in fact an engine of plane and because of the priority given to the air force, this engine was not available in great number for M3. To fill this lack one used the diesel engine Guiberson but especially Twin Cadillac V8 gasoline developing 220 hp. This last equipped a new model the M3A2. This prototype was tested on nearly 1000 km without knowing the least engine trouble, at the end of 1941. Twin Cadillac proved being higher than the Continental one, and the new model was approved for the production. The M3A2 was standardized as Light M5 Tank and not M4 not to be confused with Medium Tank M4 (Sherman). Because the installation of this double-engine, the rear deck of the superstructure was raised what gave to M5 with inclined frontof hull. An easily recognizable silhouette.
M3 was standardized for the production in July 1940. The first specimens made their appearance in March 1941. The first models with being equiped of the diesel engine appeared in June 1941. The M3A1 made its appearance in May 1942, the M3A3 in September 1942. Since 1941 because of the law lease-lend, M3 were also delivered to the British. Models M3, M3A1 and M3A3 all were manufactured by American Car & Foundry Co. The M3A2 was to be a version with welded hull as the M3A1 but it was never produced.
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